Saturday 17th February 2018 - Lancelot Clark Storth - Hutton Roof
Even better weather today, sunny and not just as cold. Straightaway from leaving the house I could hear so many birds singing and they were obviously enjoying the better conditions. The Greenfinch could be heard "S - h - eee - e r" and coming from a regular spot in the grounds of the Old Vicarage. Lots of Dunnocks singing as if they were in every garden and every bush! (so many), the odd soft call coming from local Goldcrest.
Arriving towards the top of Vicarage Lane I was pleasantly surprised to count a minimum of 200 Chaffinch crossing overhead in batches of 30 or 40 at a time with scarecely a few seconds between each batch, and obviously coming out of the die back left over maize in the field there and subsequently landing in other nearby trees. There were probably other finches mixed in the large party (eg: Brambling and Greenfinch) but I could only hear the calls of Chaffinch. I did see a party of about 30 Goldfinch come from a similar area which carried on further back.
I have had reports most recently from friends to say that odd Little Egrets have starting visiting the fields at the top of Vicarage Lane, and sure enough there was one just in front of me, crossing over the fields, low down and perhaps only a metre above the ground. Sometimes you will see Alba's (collective name for Pied Wagtails and White Wagtails) amongst the muck piles having come out foraging for the day. Most of them will return in the evening to roost at the nearby Burton Motorway Services where you may get scores of birds meeting up and getting the warmth from the buildings at night.
On the edges of Lancelot near to Pickles Wood I could hear lots of Great Tits and the occasional Blue Tits, Nuthatch. The Great Tits were so interesting with their selected call which obviously had been chosen from their 200 variant call repertoire and today they did the very loud echo-ing "Tuchoo, Tuchoo" and at first I though "Hi Hi" Marsh Tits! but no it was clearly the beautiful little Great Tits doing their superb impressions. Mournful "Peeu" calls from the Bullfinch came from several locations, a very successful species which is doing really well around here. Also today I had a party of about seven Long Tailed Tits (or sometimes called Titmice) which were flitting past and calling with their "Si Si Si" calls. Our Woodpeckers are also happy at the moment and busy discovering new holes and checking them out.
Our Song Thrushes are also singing their little hearts out from the high canopy. I guess I could listen to them for hours with their much varied calls. I like to write down their calls in a "English fashion" but they are so fast the deed is virtually impossible and lots of the calls are obviously missed. I guess for me the Throstle singing away is the very start of Spring and the beginning of yet another birding (or for that matter Nature as a whole) year. What a privilege it is to be around to be able to listen and cherish this grand array of natural music (to my ears!) This below is what I mean about writing "his tune" I did this in 2015 and have done it every year since... Thank you, you little beauty!
Friday 16th February 2018 - Dalton Crags to Hutton Roof Common Trig Point
Nice and Sunny and bitterly cold, but such a joy to get out and check things out. My initial thoughts were to wonder if the Great Grey Shrike had made an appearance, its quite obvious odd ones are now being seen throughout the Country at various Shrike haunts, yet ours (when and if he/she arrives) is pretty good at choosing about the 4th of March as a regular return date.
First thing that caught my eye was down in lower Dalton Crags when I was watching a Green Woodpecker for some twenty minutes whilst it was examining a nearby tree, he seemed to go around the back of the tree in the opposite direction to me, so at sometime in the next few days I will need to check out the tree to see if there are any holes etc.
Oh! just the ticket! to hear "Sky" singing away higher up in Dalton Crags (deforested), it is always the very first Skylark back and was singing away marking her territory, also another one was noticed near by. Although the song was good it was patchy and intermittent, I think perhaps it needs to warm up a bit before you will get the full monty!
Just on cue I also had two Meadow Pipits crossed my path and continuously calling with their "psst psst" calls, I watched them come in and watched them all the way out to the North West, so to me it seemed clear they were on their migration.
It was rather sad not to see lots of Thrushes like you would normally see at this time of year in lower Dalton, it just seemed devoid of Thrushes other than a occasional Blackbird.